Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen stand alone after setting epic European record

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The 2023/24 season just keeps on getting better and better for Xabi Alonso and Bayer Leverkusen.

After their epic 2-2 draw against Roma in the second leg of their Europa League semi-final, it means the German champions have now gone 49 games unbeaten, surpassing the previous record that’s stood since 1965.

Almost 60 years ago it was Portuguese giants Benfica who remained unbeaten for 48 games between December 1963 and February 1965.

Bayer Leverkusen set new European unbeaten record of 49 games

Of their 49 games, Leverkusen have, incredibly, won 40 of them, evidencing just how dominant the Bundesliga outfit have been at home and abroad across the campaign.

A mixture of stout defending and lightning fast attacks have been too much for most teams to cope with, and Alonso’s side can keep extending the record with games still to come in the German top-flight and the DFB-Pokal (German Cup) final.

The team have been a joy to watch too.

Never overly defensive as might be expected from a team that’s almost notched a half century of games without losing, Leverkusen have preferred to take the games to their opponents, putting them on the back foot from the get go.

Against Roma they were down and out after two Leandro Parades penalties looked to have given the visitors an unassailable lead.

Josip Stanisic guides home a 97th-minute equaliser to preserve Bayer Leverkusen’s incredible unbeaten record

However, Gianluca Mancini’s own goal put Leverkusen ahead in the tie and within one goal of history.

Try as they might, the ball just didn’t want to go in until Josip Stanisic rifled home the last kick of the game in the 97th minute.

The joy that erupted in the stands and on the bench was as much relief as anything else. Leverkusen may not boast or brag about their unbeaten run, but they’ll not want to lose it at this late stage of the season.

The only real shame is that this special side will likely be broken up in a year’s time.

Alonso, despite incessant rumours to the contrary, decided to stay with Leverkusen for at least another season, meaning many of his big name stars will already have, or be likely to, follow suit.

Should the Spaniard take up a position at Real Madrid as expected, there will be a further expectation that the likes of Piero Hincapie, Florian Wirtz and Jeremie Frimpong will also decide that the time is then right to move on to pastures new.

All good things come to an end… including unbeaten runs eventually.

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